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A Word from The Word

A Testimony to God's Grace!

"...Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." (Mark 5:19)

I have two convictions that are just as deep as my own soul salvation!

Number one, I believe that when a person truly comes to the Lord Jesus Christ, he is different. But someone will say, "but I joined the church, and there was not all that much change in my life." That may be the problem: you did something, you joined something; but let Jesus join you and there will definitely be a difference!

Secondly, I believe this just as strongly. As surely as a person comes to the Lord Jesus Christ and receives Him as personal Savior, he becomes a witness. He gives a testimony! And if you have never witnessed and testified at all for Jesus, it means the same thing we said about the first man - you just have not been saved yet.

In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, verses 1-20, we read about a man who came to Jesus and the difference that it made in him. This whole passage has to do with the usage of
A Testimony to the Grace of God

1"And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. 6But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshiped him, 7And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, 8 Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. 10And he besought hi much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. 14And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 16And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. 17And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. 18And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 20And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. (Mark 5:1-20)

This man not only had a personal experience of which he could be sure, but he received spiritual instruction about then usage of his testimony. First of all, where does a testimony begin?

1. The Testimony Begins at Home!

"Go home..."

The most difficult place to give a testimony is at home. It is easier to get on a 747 jetplane and fly halfway around this world, and speak to people of a different color and culture than it is to talk to those who know us best, like our family and friends.

When I was growing up it seemed that most of our family talk was around the supper table. We would talk about the weather; we would talk about the newspaper headlines; we would talk about sports; we would talk about the neighbor! But there was not any talk about Jesus! Until one day; one glorious day! God did a glorious day thing! He saved my soul! After that when we were all together at home we were either talking to Him in prayer, or about Him in testimony!

When my wife Lynda and I were trying to decide upon a name for our first boy we thought of many Bible names. Almost every preacher wants a son named after a prophet, apostle, disciple or outstanding Christian, such as Mark, Stephen or Paul. After reading and searching through our Bible we decided upon "Andrew" Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.

"One of the two which heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus..." (John 1:40-42a)

We all know who Peter was! What a preacher was Peter! He preached on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were saved! But think about this; Peter would not have even been saved himself, much less called on God and anointed to preach, had it not been for the simple, straightforward testimony of his quieter brother, Andrew.

The evangelistic program, mightily blessed of God, called "Operation Andrew," is about personal testimony. More people have been led to faith in Christ through testimony than by all the homiletically arranged I, II, III, A-B-C sermons that have ever been preached. The foundations of the early church were laid by testimony.

The disciples were asked to begin in Jerusalem, at home or right where there were.

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said to all His people, "You are to witness!" But one might ask, "Where Lord? Where am I supposed to do all this witnessing?" And He answered, "In Jerusalem." 'Right here where you are, at home!" "Then Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth." He gave them the geographical expansion of the kingdom of God! He said in so many words, "If you will be faithful to testify here, there is no telling where all I will take you with your testimony!"

I meet so many young people that are going to really "Go Get Um for Jesus..." some day! Some day, after they have graduated, married, raised a family, made their million. Some day! I doubt it! If we will not witness here at home to people I "our world" today, what makes us think we would count for Christ in Africa, China, or Brazil, or anywhere else?

One time in a youth revival the invitation had been extended for about forty-five minutes, but no one seemed alarmed. Young people had been coming down the aisles. Some were being saved, but also many were surrendering their lives to the Lord for Christian service. Some were coming to say, "God has called me to preach!" Some said, "God has called me to be a missionary!" An older woman came down the aisle and right up on the platform. She asked to use the microphone and said, "Young people, I once stood where you stand, and I felt what you are feeling. I once felt that God was calling me to be a missionary. But I had the perfect excuse. I said, 'You know I would go Lord, but I have a mother at home who is an invalid. She has no one to stay home with her but me. I must stay home with mother.'" But she stood there with her chin quivering and tears welling up in her eyes and said, "Mother died last week, and I came tonight to give my life to missions or anything else God might have for me. But they tell me I have waited too long! It is too late now! The counselor at the front tells me it is too late now to got to the seminary, and prepare and be appointed." And almost uncontrollably weeping she said, "Now I know that what God wanted with me all the time was not to go as a missionary to Africa or around the world, but simply to go home and tell my poor lost mother, who is somewhere out in eternity without God and without hope, that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for her, too!"

I don't know if God may be calling you as a foreign missionary or not, but I am sure of this - if you know Jesus, He intends for you to testify to that fact at home!

But someone might ask, "Who is suppose to give a testimony anyway?"

II. All Saved People are to Give their Testimony!

"tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee..."

When He saved you, He did the greatest thing in all the world for you! Great is His faithfulness, all the days of our life, but at the head of the list of His mercies and grace is salvation.

But someone says, "I'm just not cut out for this talking religion business!" I would like to agree with you. There are some that should never open their mouths about God. Only those for whom the Lord hath done this great thing of salvation should testify. If He has not saved you, keep your mouth shut about Jesus! Part of the problem in our day is that we have so many people who don't know Jesus, trying to tell everyone else how to find Jesus! A personal experience with Jesus must precede our personal testimony about Jesus!

We all know about David. David fell into the wallows of sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. He lied and murdered and deceived the whole kingdom in regard to that sin, but when the preacher man, Nathan, came to him, pointed his finger and said, "Thou art the man!" - David came weeping back to God with his confession:

"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." (Psalm 51:12-13)

David said, "If you will just forgive me this mess, this filth, this sin, I'll never stop talking about it the rest of the days of my life!"

There is a little study course book I find in church libraries and pastor's studies everywhere I go. It was written by the late C.E. Matthews, the secretary of the Department of Evangelism of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is entitled, Every Christian's Job. We might as well face it. It is our job if we have been saved! If we are not saved, the most pressing thing is to come to Jesus ourselves; but if we have, it is our paramount privilege and our demanding duty to tell others the Way.

We are like "Chico" in the T.V. series "Chico and the Man." He was continually saying, "it ain't my job, man!" Many zip-lipped, timid Christians would like to dodge the responsibility and say it's the preacher's job, or the theologian's or the paid worker's job, but it is not mine.

Almost every week I am introduced to a new congregation as "Our Evangelist for the next week..." I don't really mind that. But the real truth is that no one else can do the evangelizing for you. When Paul told young Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist," he was not talking about renting a tent, contracting a singer, and taking off across the country. He was talking about testifying and witnessing and bringing others to Jesus!

When I coached high school football there was a drill that we used that I got form Bear Bryant at one of the coaches schools. It was called "one on one." I could always tell who was going to start on Friday night after Monday's practice was over. It will work in all the sports but it was particularly adapted to football. If that second string fellow thought he ought to be the "starter," we would draw a circle in the middle of the practice field and put them both inside the circle facing one another. One was the offense and the other was the defense. Then we would turn it around the other way. When they got through, both of them knew who ought to be sitting beside me and who ought to be representing the team out on the field! If you do not appreciate the game of football, that may seem crude, but I believe that it is basic New Testament doctrine. Everyone wins one. Everyone brings one! And I don't meet many "world beaters," but if you will win one, and I'll win one, and someone else will - put them all together and you will be in the greatest revival you have ever known. Our kids in football always had a cry, "GETCHA ONE!" Jesus said, "Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come!" "Getcha one for Jesus!" There is nothing weak, "mamby-pamby," effeminate or "sissy" about God's program of evangelism. Each one who is saved just brings another one, then another one and another. It's more fun than football and may end up being more dangerous before the "final gun!"

But someone asks, "What am I supposed to say in a testimony? Is it an argument, or speech, or sermon?

III. Your own Personal Experience is the Heart of your Testimony.

"Tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."

We ought to read and learn all that we can about the Bible and God, but I have known some who had not been saved very long and could not quote John 3:16, but God made them "Soul Winners!" The world is starving to hear what Jesus has done for us individually and personally. But it is a legitimate question: "What do I say in a testimony?"

It is an old story and told many times, but it illustrates this point. A young man got excited about the things of the Lord and he went to his pastor and said, "I want to be a testimony and I know that God has saved my soul, but I don't know what I am supposed to say, or how I'm to tell it." This pastor told him what we used to tell our kids in sports, "Just get it on! If you make a mistake going 150 percent, no one is going to say anything to you about it anyway. But it is when you are loafing and lazy that you are going to get us beat and hurt and everything else!" So the young man made up his mind that he was going to talk to the first person he ran into the next day. It seems that he was a barber by trade. A fellow came into his barber shop and climbed up into the chair and asked for a shave. The young Christian barber began to think and to wonder, "How do I get started; what do I say; what is first?"

He lathered the face and all the time he was worrying. He strapped the razor and all the time he was getting more nervous and "up-tight." Finally, just about the time he got that big razor beneath the customer's chin, he got up enough courage and blurted out, "Are you ready to die?" They have not heard form that guy since! But something was accomplished. He let the man know he was excited about it all.

Let us look at the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark and just see what Jesus had done for "legion." That is what he said his name was. Of course, it was the demons that were talking form within him because he was controlled by thousands of demons. What Jesus had done for him, He has done, or will do for us.

He had been delivered or transplanted! He had been plucked up out of the muddy mire of sin and guilt and transplanted over into the healthy rich fertile ferma of Christ and His glorious truth!

First, he was delivered from self. In verse four it says, "...neither could any man tame him." He was big, and mean, wild, hairy and ugly and no man was going to tame him. But Jesus did! We are our own worst enemy many times. But Jesus can free us from our own selfish selves and desires.

Secondly, he was delivered from satan. In verse fifteen it says, "[He, the demonic] was possessed with the devil..." That is the old story that is just as modern as today's newspaper headlines. People, many times, are still demon possessed. We have new, high sounding names and terms for it. We use psychological jargon like "schizophrenia, neurotic, psychotic, mal-adjusted." All that may well be, or the problem could be that Satan has one locked into his plan. In I Corinthians 6:11 the Bible says, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." He sets the captive free.

Thirdly, he was delivered from insanity. In verse fifteen it says, after he came to Jesus (past tense), he was "...sitting and clothed, and in his right mind..." No one knows how long he must have been up in those mountain heights. They had sent posses of men up into the mountains to capture him, but always in him insane strength he would break those chains like they were rubber bands. But when he came to Jesus, he put on some clothes, sat down at the feet of Jesus, and begin to think clearly. You cannot even think correctly until you have come to Jesus. How crazy it is to continue down a broad road that leads to destruction and death when God has offered us peace and position at His right hand.

Fourthly, he was delivered from suffering. In verse five it says, "...he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones." To borrow a youth cliche, this fellow was really freaked out! He will pick up huge rocks and rake them and scrape them across his bare chest until he bleeds. It is just further teaching emphasizing that "The way of the transgressor is hard." It is equally crazy today for Christians to pick up the rocks of worldliness and rake them and scrape them over their testimony until it is rendered lifeless and worthless. It is a long, hard, painful, suffering road without Jesus. Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Fifthly, he was delivered from death. In verse five it says, "he was in the mountains, and in the tombs..." Do you know where this demonic lived? In a graveyard. In a cemetery! In that day and tie they buried their dead in the rocks and caves and crevices of the mountains. they took their dead unto the mountains to bury them and he lived there. Spiritually, many live in a cemetery today! The spiritually dead prefer the company of the dead. Some like their religion like that. They do not want to be where there is much life and light and fire. The prodigal's father said, "This my son was dead, but is alive again."

When you stop to think of all He has done for us, we have a lot to talk about. He was delivered from sin, self, Satan, suffering, insanity and death! So have you, if you have come to Jesus! But why don't we give our testimony!

IV. Reasons for Not Testifying

Many do not know what a testimony is. a young person told me, "If I were to start talking about Jesus, carrying a Bible, or passing out tracts, someone might think that I was bragging! I said you are about halfway right. A testimony is bragging alright! But it is not bragging on yourself, but on the lord Jesus Christ! Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Paul said, I'm proud! I'm proud of Jesus! We have this thing of humility all mixed up. I know the Bible says we are to be humble before Him, but show me one place where it says we have to be humble before man. Humility is a vertical relationship. It is between God and man and He has His own way of taking care of that. But horizontally, person to person, we should be proud of all God has done, and is doing! If people misunderstand, they are the ones who are in error. but let's brag on Jesus anyway and every way we can.

Others do not give their testimony because they are afraid of their emotions. They are afraid that if they start talking about something so vitally important and personally real that they might show signs of feeling. They think their voice might crack, or a lump get in their throat, or tears come to their eyes. Why is that? We are not scared of our emotions out at "Tiger Stadium." You can go to the game and holler, and cry and scream and kick! If you win one, tear the goalposts down! No one will worry at all. they will just say, "He is a fan!" But you can come into the house of God and hear that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for your sins and it moves you to have a tear or say "Amen" and someone will say, "He's a fanatic!" Come on, now! What is the difference in the fan and the "fanatic"? The fan is sold on sports and I'll have to always be one of those, but the so-called fanatic is sold on Jesus! God give us more of those, whatever the world wants to call them.

Don't worry about the tears! I worry more about those that will never cry again! The Psalmist said:

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalms 126:5, 6)

Let God control your every part, emotions included. He may want you to just cry for His glory!

I remember a Sunday School teacher who would stand before the men's class each Sunday and from beneath his glasses streamed sincere tears of compassion. I don't remember a point he made, nor outline or illustration, but I'll never forget those tears. You may get someone's attention if you just stand there and sincerely weep over their soul. Tears will do more than all the logic and reasoning in the world when you go "soul-fishing!"

Finally, the main reason that most folks never testify is because nothing has ever happened to then experientially. Did you know that it is easier to get into most churches than it is the Masons or Oddfellows? That's right! You don't even have to come three times in a row! You come one time and your heart is blessed and you know the you need to do something. So you walk down an aisle, give the preacher your hand, and then you are baptized and you never have to come again, give again, serve again. But once a member, always a member! You can be a member of a church and burn, but you cannot be saved and never tell it. Whoever said it was right, "Joining the church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than walking into the garage makes you an automobile!" Something has to happen on the inside!

Let me ask you: do you have a testimony? It is pretty hard to get excited about just joining some church. But when you have experienced salvation, you just have to pass it on! In a nutshell here is the message: "If you can get it and not know it, you can lose it and never miss it!" It is just too good to keep! If we don't use it, we lose it!

How long has it been since you gave your testimony? A week? That's too long! A month, a year? Five years? Think about it! If you have never given it, if you have never shared your personal testimony with another living soul, are you sure that you have one? Get one! Get one, and go! Get a personal testimony for Jesus. You can get yours where I got mine. I did not get it at the church, or the seminary, or from another man. I got mine at the cross! I got it at the Throne of Grace! I got it form the Lord. You can have your own specially-made testimony right now. Bow your head and your heart and tell the Lord you want something you can know about. Something that is real and something you can get excited about! If you have one, share it with someone today! If you were saved in your mother's lap when you were five years old; if you were saved after running down an aisle of a church a half dozen times - each person is different and the situation and circumstances of your conversion will be different form everyone else's - but you just tell it like it is, and how it happened to you!

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